Press Freedom Index: The top 10 worst countries

Syria, Rwanda, and Yemen have fallen to the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index, the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said today. The three countries join other single-party dominated governments at the bottom of the annual index, while six democratic Northern European nations tied this year as the best places for media freedom.

Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland have ranked at the top since the index was created in 2002, Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Jean-François Julliard said in a statement.

"The defense of media freedom continues to be a battle, a battle of vigilance in the democracies of old Europe and a battle against oppression and injustice in the totalitarian regimes still scattered across the globe," he said. Click through the following slides to read about the 10 lowest-ranking nations.

10. Rwanda

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    Rwandan President Paul Kagame takes part in a media event on Oct. 1.

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Rwanda fell 12 places from last year in the Press Freedom Index.

"The six-month suspension of leading independent publications, the climate of terror surrounding the presidential election, and Umuvugizi deputy editor Jean-Léonard Rugambage’s murder in Kigali were the reasons for this fall," according to a statement from Reporters Without Borders. "Journalists are fleeing the country because of the repression, in an exodus almost on the scale of Somalia’s."

The recent Rwanda election stoked concerns over media freedoms. The Monitor reported at the time: "Labeled a staunch economic reformer by Western governments, but also called a ruthless dictator by his opponents and by human rights groups, Mr. Kagame is widely expected to win by a landslide, at least in part because several of his opponents have been forbidden from participating and others have been killed in what rights groups and analysts suspect were assassinations."

However, African Monitor blogger Jina Moore argues here that the media situation in Rwanda is not as bad as in neighboring countries.

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